Europe fails to remove boardroom glass ceiling

The number of women in the boardrooms of Europe's top companies has been stagnating except in Scandinavia. New research by the European Professional Women's Network (EuropeanPWN) found that only 8.3% of board members were women, a tiny increase compared to 8% in 2004.

by EuropeanPWN
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

The report found that there were wide discrepancies between countries, particularly between northern and southern Europe. Through proactive policies and quotas, Scandinavia is now surging ahead of the old continent: Norway, thanks to the recent introduction of a 40% quota, leads the way with 28.8% of women board members, while Sweden (22.8%), Finland (20%) and Denmark (17.9%) follow close behind.

At the other end of the spectrum, Mediterranean countries have done very little to help women make it in the boardroom. Portugal has no female board members, while Italy (1.9%), Spain (4.3%) and Greece (4.4%) trail at the bottom of the league. Spain, however, is due to put a similar quota law to Norway's before parliament this month, which should help improve women's representation.

Between both extremes sit the UK (11.4%), Germany (7.2%), the Netherlands (6.5%) and France (7%), with the UK the most promising of the middling group: 87% of UK companies now have at least one female board member.

These figures put Europe a long way behind the US, where 90% of companies now have women on their boards, representing on average 14.7% of board members. The research by EuropeanPWN suggests instead that European companies have favoured diversity from a nationality point of view.

This is the second BoardWomen Monitor organised by the EuropeanPWN in partnership with Egon Zehnder International. It focused on the largest 300 companies in Europe by market capitalisation and added the largest companies from those countries that didn’t make it in the top 300 to address geographical coverage.

Source: Second Bi-annual EuropeanPWN BoardWomen Monitor 2006:
Scandinavia strengthens its lead
EuropeanPWN, Egon Zehnder International

Review by Emilie Filou

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